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Jakarta Post

Companies keep doing business in Palu special economic zone despite outbreak

  • Ruslan Sangaji

    The Jakarta Post

Palu, Central Sulawesi   /   Fri, April 17, 2020   /   06:18 pm
Companies keep doing business in Palu special economic zone despite outbreak A representation of the Palu Special Economic Zone (KPK) in North Palu, Central Sulawesi. (Courtesy of KEK Palu/File)

City-owned developer PT Bangun Palu Sulawesi Tengah (BPST), which oversees the development of the Palu Special Economic zone (SEZ) in Central Sulawesi, has reported that at least two manufacturers are still operating in the industrial district amid the unfolding COVID-19 outbreak. 

Moringa processing company PT Moringa Organik Celebes Indonesia (MOCI), which operates in the SEZ, is developing an integrated machine to process moringa leaves and seeds, said BPST president commissioner Iwan Yunus recently.

MOCI has planted drumstick trees on a 10-hectare piece of land to provide raw materials for its factory. The company is seeking to produce 20 tons of moringa powder from a 40-hectare of plantation. It is also planning to sell its products to the European market by partnering with PT Moringa Indonesia.

"The company, therefore, will partner with farmers’ groups," said Iwan. "The existing plantation serves as an example."

As of Thursday, 5,516 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed nationwide. Many companies in the country have decreased or suspended their production to follow the government's social restriction order amid slowing demand.

As a result, the country's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a monthly survey of trends in the manufacturing sector, recorded a contraction from 51.9 to 45.3 between February and March, the steepest decline since the survey began in 2011.

MOCI was not the only company to keep operating in the special economic zone. Rattan manufacturer PT Kaili Rotan Industri is continuing to produce polo sticks and raw materials in Palu for furniture-making in Cirebon, West Java. The firm buys various types of rattan from, among other locations, North Morowali, Sigi and Donggala in Central Sulawesi.

"This company will ship two containers of polo sticks in June and 30 tons of raw materials for furniture production to Cirebon for the first time," said BPST president director Andi Mulhanan Tombolotutu.

Mulhanan said the companies operating in the SEZ were complying with health protocols related to COVID-19. The firms divided the operations for 10 workers into two shifts: from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The workers were also advised to keep a safe distance from each other, wash their hands and wear face masks while doing their jobs.

"Another policy is giving turns to different groups of workers. If the first group works today, they do not go to work the next day," said Mulhanan. "Instead, they will go back to work the day after tomorrow. So they take turns." (dfr)